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Dog Bite Lawsuit

Before I address this E-Newsletter’s topic, let me first say that I truly love dogs, especially my good friend’s Golden Retriever, Hunter. Despite my affection, I have learned that even the sweetest animal can end up in the “dog house.” At Maggs & McDermott we have handled many dog bite cases, which typically include both physical and emotional injuries. We work with our clients to ensure compensation for their injuries and medical bills, which often includes an emergency room visit, wound care, plastic surgeries, physical therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder, counseling, etc.

What we often see, with both bite victims and dog owners, is that people do not know their legal rights. When it comes to this type of incident, the first thing to know are the dog bite laws in your state, as they vary. First and foremost is timing. In New Jersey there is a statute of limitations of two years to bring a claim for a dog bite attack. This means you have two years from the date of the dog bite incident to bring a lawsuit against the owner of the dog.

Second, New Jersey has a specific “dog bite” statute imposing strict liability on the owner of the dog for injuries which occur on public property or lawfully on private property. “Lawfully on private property” means someone who is invited to be in the home or on the property of the dog owner, such as a guest at a party, a mailman delivering mail, etc. On the other hand, if someone is an intruder, he or she is not lawfully on the property and the dog bite statute does not apply.

Finally, the New Jersey dog bite statute states that the owner of the dog is strictly liable for any injuries regardless of any prior indication or knowledge by the owner of viciousness by the dog. This means that the owner of the dog cannot claim innocence by saying this was the first time their dog has ever acted out in an aggressive manor such as biting.

If you are the owner of a dog, I would highly recommend you look into your homeowner insurance policy to see whether or not you are covered in case your dog bites someone. Even though they are beloved pets who become like members of the family, your dog can create serious liability for you if there is an unfortunate incident.

This month’s E-Newsletter highlight’s 11-year-old Dylen Itzol, who was attacked by a pit bull at a condominium complex. This case is an example of how we at the Maggs & McDermott can help a family like Dylen’s during a very painful and confusing time.

Jim Maggs

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